From beast to beauty

If all the world' a catwalk then Tokyo is the most fashion forward, in-your-face, hair-out-to there, melting pot on the face of the planet. Whether your look is black on black Aoyama, fashion victim Shibuya kogyaru or Shimo-Kitazawa flea market hip, looking good is serious business. Since life is the catwalk we spin on, put your best foot forward! From hair to skin, Alex Jordan has got you tressed, painted and pouty - all you need to bring is the attitude.

Photo by Beezer, model Shinobu, hair by Chie at Watanabe Hair Salon, Harajuku

If all the world's a catwalk then Tokyo is the most fashion forward, in-your-face, hair-out-to-there, melting pot on the face of the planet. Whether your look is black on black Aoyama, fashion victim Shibuya kogyaru or Shimo-Kitazawa flea market hip, looking good is serious business. Since life is the catwalk we spin on, put your best foot forward! From hair to skin, Alex Jordan has got you tressed, painted and pouty - all you need to bring is the attitude.

Take a walk down any of Tokyo's fashionable streets and they're alive with an ever-changing fashion show that moves faster than the Yen on the Nikkei. With this passion for fashion comes an equal, if not almost rabid, attention to hair and makeup. Fortunately, Tokyo has become a magnet for some of the most creative, daring and talented hair dressers, stylists and makeup artists in the biz.

Until some years ago, only a handful of salons in Aoyama and Roppongi had stylists who could speak English and were trained in cutting and coloring Western hair. Results at some salons were disappointing at best and horrific at worst. Product compatibility, training, experience; a variety of reasons account for the hair-raising stories that circulated around gaijin watering holes.

All that changed with the bubble and the huge influx of foreign residents. Hair salons catering to the needs of foreigners began testing the waters; a wider range of cosmetic colors started to show up on the sample counters; and some skin care products labels were even translated into English.

Of all the accessories Tokyoites adorn themselves with, hair and makeup are the most crucial. One of the tried and true places below will have you looking picture perfect in a snap.

go1.gif (62 bytes)THE CUTTING EDGE

Sin Den
Sin Den is owned and operated by the dynamic duo of Estelle and Elissa. These Australian natives came several years ago to help out a friend, Dene Sinden, at his salon above Las Chicas in Aoyama. The two soon reached the limits of what could be done at that location. A move to a new salon, along with magazine and fashion show work, exposure in fashion magazines and a spot on ETV have brought Sin Den much-deserved success - and more opportunity to stretch themselves creatively. One of their trademark services is color correction - like fixing that kitchen dye job. With the addition of Japanese staff they can now service the Japanese community as well.

featureCuts, coloring, highlights, perms, straightening, color correction and more, with services beginning at JY7000 for a cut and JY18,000 for a cut and color. For the more adventurous, they also offer the most cutting-edge wig styling in Tokyo. Estelle and Simon, a staff stylist and hair dresser, are topnotch makeup artists, and offer makeovers and makeup lessons. Since moving to their new location near Gaienmae, appointments have been harder to come by, so book at least one to two weeks in advance.

3-42-12 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Open 10am-9pm daily
Tel: 03-3405-4409; fax 03-3405-4408
Access: Gaienmae or Omotesando (exit A2), Ginza line

Twiggy is one of the top salons in Tokyo, perhaps all Japan. The stylist to the stars, when not in the salon Twiggy's owner is on the set of TV dramas, films and commercials or appearing in women's fashion magazines. Top models, TV announcers and actors make up the majority of the clientele. In the midst of all this glamour is Stephane, a genius hairdresser who was finally persuaded to leave France to deal with the growing foreign clientele. Since Stephane speaks English, Japanese and French, he is in constant demand. Stephane executes what the clients want, while encouraging them to try "just a touch of something new."

Services start at JY6000 for a basic cut and JY13,000 for coloring. Nail services also available. Book in advance as the wait can be well over two weeks.

2-5-13 Azabu Juban, Marui Bldg 4F, Minato-ku
Open 11am-7pm daily, Tel: 03-3402-3417
Access: Roppongi or Hiroo stn., Hibiya line

Still Waters
Still Waters is much like any other stylish little hair salon on Omotesando. What sets it apart from the rest is the cutting technique they use - a three-point procedure involving a horizontal, vertical and diagonal trim developed by owner Shinichi Igarashi during his years as the chief stylist at Peek-a-boo. Cut from JY5500, perm from JY5000.

Kimijima Bldg 3F, 3-18-19 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku
Open 10am-7pm Tue to Sat, 10am to 6pm Sun; closed Mon. Tel: 03-5474-0330
Access: Omotesando stn., Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda lines

Ebisu Cream Bath
Even before the obvious benefits of a carrot, aloe, avocado or ginseng scalp treatment, a visit to Ebisu Cream Bath is a sensual delight. Incense greets, gamelan pervades and batik surrounds - appropriate to the treatment's Indonesian roots. Even after the treatment the soothing continues with a peppermint-oil head and shoulder massage.

Quick cream bath JY5000, basic JY6000, traditional JY9000.

NT Building 3F, 2-2-2 Ebisu Minami, Shibuya-ku
Open 11am to 10pm daily; closed holidays
Tel: 03-5722-2345; fax: 03-5722-2396
Access: Ebisu stn., Hibiya line

Incomparable stylist Kaz Taira and his partner trained in London at Vidal Sassoon's ALA International, then returned to found Panorama fifteen years ago. Both speak English well, and Panorama's stylists are equally adept at shearing male and female clients. Their specialty is coloring, and they import materials from England or Australia and employ charts that show how the colors will look on foreign heads when finished. In a unique turnaround (for which Panorama has appeared in numerous magazines), stylists use color techniques tried on foreign heads on their Japanese customers.

Cuts with blow dry JY6000-JY6500, cut, color and styling JY13,000.

6-5-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku
Open 11am-7:30pm (6:30pm for coloring), Wed-Mon; closed Tue. Tel: 03-3400-3901
Access: Omotesando stn., Ginza, Hanzomon or Chiyoda lines or JR Harajuku stn.

Cuts and Colors by Adam
Have scissors, will travel! For those who want to relax in the comfort of their own home, Australian-born hairdresser Adam Hitchens will come cut and color everyone from grandma on down. Adam uses the fine French hair care line Keune. Cuts run from JY5000, with color starting at JY12,000. The only service he doesn't offer is perming, but he can do everything else from his backpack salon. Adam offers discounts to clients who book for two or more at a time (say Mom and the kids) and, as at a "regular" salon, set-up and clean-up are done for you. Adam has recently become busy so book well in advance.

Open: 10am-10pm daily, Tel: 090-199-2159

go1.gif (62 bytes)NAIL YOUR COLORS

featureNail Bee
Harumi Homma had a simple dream. She wanted to study in the US, then come back to Japan to open her own nail salon. Things in New York weren't quite so easy. Training necessitated extensive English study to understand the complex anatomy lessons needed to earn her license, and she also had to obtain a social security card. Today Harumi runs two successful salons and a nail school. In addition to manicures, pedicures, tips, wraps and repairs, her staff also does waxing and facials. Prices are reasonable: JY3000 for a manicure, JY2000 for a hand paraffin pack, and waxing begins at JY4000 (full face JY6000, full leg JY7000 for women, JY11,000 for men). Some English spoken.

Roppongi: 3-11-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tel 03-3470-9665, Fax 03-3470-9672
Azabu: Pearl Heights Yokoshiba #805, 2-13-15 Nishi Azabu, Minato-ku; Tel 03-5468-3390, Open 1:30-7pm daily
Nail Bee School: 4-10-6 Roppongi, Minato-ku, tel 03-3402-5546
Access for all locations: Roppongi stn., Hibiya line

Nail Quick
One of the first nail salons in Tokyo and still one of the best, Nail Quick has several locations, with two conveniently located next to Omotesando station. It doesn't specifically cater to a foreign clientele and most manicurists don't speak English, but the language of the claws seems to be universal - I've never had a communication problem here. The selection of colors on offer is mind-boggling: Chanel, E.P.I., Hard Candy, Christian Dior, MAC and more! In addition to manicures, pedicures, tips, wraps and fills, massage, aromatherapy and paraffin wax dips are offered. This is the place to come for rhinestones, glitter, multi-colored nails, palm trees and holiday-inspired art. Manicures start at a reasonable JY2800, with pedicures running JY5300.

5-9-21 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Open 11am-9pm, Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm weekends, Tel: 03-3797-9199
Access: Omotesando stn., Ginza, Hanzomon and Chiyoda lines

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